April 02, 2007

What's With the Princess Thing?

So not being around little girls too often, or for that matter families that include little girls, I'm wondering this - is it still as common as it was in the 20th century to put visions in their heads of how wonderful it is to be a princess, or how they are daddy's little princess, etc.? I ask this b/c over the weekend I skimmed through Victoria's Daughters, and I've got to say that even if you happened to be a princess in the greatest empire in the world, there was still a good chance that your life was really going to suck on occasion, and the princess or not, the demands of family and "a woman's place" or "a royal's place" ... well, I've got to think that those types of things are matters that something like 90% of today's girls really wouldn't want to have to deal with. So that being the case - has there been a decline in the princessization of little girls in the last decade or two?

By the way, if you are interested in the lifestyles available to upper-class (or highest-class) women in the late 19th century that book might be of interest to you. Other than that ... well, it reminds you just how German the English monarchy has been for the last 300 years (well, at least until Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Diana entered the picture), just what a nasty paranoid Kaiser Wilhelm II was, and that hemophilia is a terrible scourge.

Posted by armand at April 2, 2007 12:36 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Culture


a friend of mine has a daughter in the 5-7 range. said friend is ivy league, as is her husband, professional, painfully smart; they live in the right neighborhood, send their kids to the right daycare and the right private schools; in general, they do everything to empower their daughter and lead her away from those things that most connote old-fashioned femininity, of which princessism is at least a marginal strain. imagine, then, my friend's surprise, when despite her best efforts, her daughter starts developing a taste for princessy acoutrements that pops up in the most bizarre ways, and without a clear point of origin (her same-age friends, of course, are mostly children from similarly anti-princessism environments). for whatever that's worth.

Posted by: moon at April 2, 2007 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

Does the little darling have teachers and watch TV?

Posted by: binky at April 2, 2007 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

I know a couple who have an incredibly bright and precocious five-year-old girl. Mom is damn near butch, both parents are way progressive (in parenting, at least), the girl was raised with attachment parenting, will start Sudbury Valley School next year, she has had trucks and trains and sports toys around her all her life, her TV exposure is very limited (and very filtered), her principal playmates are almost all boys, and yet she loves pretty dresses and glittery shoes and shiny princess crowns. Nobody knows quite how this happened. It's very odd.

Posted by: jacflash at April 2, 2007 05:22 PM | PERMALINK

my friends aren't as extreme as j'flash's, but they're TV exposure is very limited (as per the norm in upper-middle-class America these days, their lives more closely resemble those of politicians on the campaign trail, every second from waking to sleep scheduled with some sort of quantifiably gainful activity, than those of the children i remember hanging around and, well, being) and, as i said, they go to schools where most parents would probably make clear to a teacher, they want their little girls to grow up self-sufficient and imbued with a sense of their utter equality.

but of course what this leaves out -- and what jacflash's point about principally male friends doesn't really explain away -- is the complex affect of socialization. i'm not so sure that playing mostly with boys is a total hedge against certain expectations about girlhood creeping in. part of how the gender role thing plays out, of course, is in reinforcement from both sides, little girls and little boys subtly imposing their expectations on each other, and so on.

in any event, it's fascinating watching other people raise children. and then going home and getting a full night's sleep. :-)

Posted by: moon at April 3, 2007 10:53 AM | PERMALINK
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